Just a quick update to let you all know what we’ve been up to for this challenge.
First of all – we have baked and delivered goodies to our neighbors with cards, (yes, even the ones we never speak to…here’s to relationship building!) and I still have several more to finish. Really excited about this, as just today I found a gift on my porch. I was expecting it was from a friend who had mentioned dropping something off to me – but instead it was from one of the neighbors I had delivered baked goodies to. Inside was a 4-pack of Play-Doh (boy did she get that one right!) and a package of chocolates. The card completely made my day. It read:
“We thank you very much for the delicious treats and the invitation to church. It was truly a surprise and a sweet blessing. Thank you! You guys are welcome to come and play with us!!! We ask our Lord to continue blessing and watching over you during this beautiful season and all the year through!”
This getting to know the neighbors and serve them treats is not so bad!
So far, we’ve managed a couple things but I’m not completely satisfied that it’s enough – because I’m not sure it’s far enough out of our normal routine. So we’ll see what else we can come up with to stretch our norm. I volunteered to be a part of our Youth’s Christmas Musical, along with many wonderful people. I got to be part of a wonderful choir of voices, and even though it was a time-commitment, it was really worth it. We had a lovely turn-out and it was a touching evening.
I’ve also volunteered to sing for our church’s Christmas Eve service with a very talented team of vocalists and musicians. This is exciting for me, because it’s an opportunity for me to use my particular gifts to bless others. Again, not so sure that’s considered stretching myself – because it’s something I love to do. Still, I’m looking forward to it – because it’s a very full service with lots of people from the community who don’t normally attend church. Woot!
We’ve also had the opportunity to volunteer to teach Sunday School as “substitute teachers” in the 3 year old class. Oh help! But you know – this actually IS stretching Anton and I. I don’t think we’ve ever done this before and it should be a great learning experience – among other things, ha! Really looking forward to it and really loved having the motivation to say YES when the need arose. One of the great benefits of this challenge is that I find we’re LOOKING for ways to plug in and help out. Wish I could say that we do that 365 days a year.
Really needing some ideas here - we are having a hard time with this one because of travel and time constraints. It's bothering me that we haven't taken care of this...how hard can it be to help out your community?
I have some great ideas for all of you, if you aren’t sure how to help. We haven’t made our decision yet – but I think we’ve narrowed it down to one or two of the following: (the titles are LINKS so you can read about them yourselves!)
This one, in particular, touches my heart. You really have the opportunity to change an entire family's life with a simple gift. And these aren’t just any gifts. You can buy a pair of chicks for a family – to provide eggs that will feed them for a long time. The cost of that gift? $11.00. $140 buys a pair of goats that supply a family with 1,095 liters of milk a year! Electricity is a rare commodity in many South Asian villages - $25 buys a lantern to light up a small family home. $65 purchases a lamb that will produce 30 pounds of wool each year, not to mention milk and the cheese that can be made from it. Read some of the stories on the site and see how these gifts CHANGED LIVES. We have everything we need! Imagine being in a situation where a lantern and two chicks made all the difference for your entire family? This is a worthy charity, indeed.
Feed the Children has a special place in my mother’s heart – she has donated to them for years! They offer international and statewide assistance to children and families in severe need. You may not see it very often – but there are millions of children who go to bed hungry every single night. Not to mention, with little or no medical care for most of their childhood. Feed the Children is a worthwhile organization where your donation will be used to benefit children in amazing ways. In 2010, over 125,000 backpacks – loaded with assorted children's books, school supplies, food and personal care items – were distributed to our nation's growing population of homeless children through Feed the Children.
Another worthy organization helping children and families overcome poverty in nearly 100 countries. The millions of people they serve include earthquake and hurricane survivors, abandoned and exploited children, survivors of famine and civil war, refugees, and children and families in communities devastated by AIDS in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
I can’t say enough good things about Amanda DeLange and the incredible difference she has made in the life of so many orphans in China through The Starfish Foster Home. Her unique gift is in finding babies and children who have special needs. Many of these babies have spina bifida, cleft palettes, and cardiovascular issues. The Starfish staff take the babies in, get them the medical treatment they need, and nurse them back to health – making them officially ready for adoption. I can’t think of a more worthy cause!
Half the Sky is a wonderful organization we have previously donated to. They are based in China and are an amazing group of people working hard to care for orphans. They provide individual nurturing and stimulation for babies, innovative preschools that encourage an early love of learning, personalized learning opportunities for older children, and loving — and most important, permanent — foster homes for children whose special needs will keep them from being adopted.
I think many of us, if not all, have heard of St. Jude. And God forbid any of us ever are in need of their services, but I certainly know that if we were – we would get the most amazing care. Children plagued with illness breaks my heart in too many ways to count. This is a wonderful way to give this Holiday Season.
- Thanks to donors, St. Jude families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance, and no child is ever denied treatment because of the family's inability to pay.
- Your donations also help St. Jude cover other costs a family typically incurs while their child is being treated at the hospital, including travel, housing and food.
- At St. Jude, donor dollars help fuel the groundbreaking research that leads to pioneering care and treatments for childhood cancer and other deadly diseases.
Since 1980, the Make-A-Wish Foundation® has enriched the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions through its wish-granting work. The Foundation's mission reflects the life-changing impact that a Make-A-Wish® experience has on children, families, referral sources, donors, sponsors and entire communities. Your donation makes the wishes of very ill children come true with the help of the Make a Wish Foundation.
I’d love to hear how each of you are spending this Holiday Season reaching out to others! Please share with us in the comments!